Continue reading Who Gets to be the Caliph?
by Barry Rubin
Who gets to be the caliph? After all, if you want to have a caliphate , as revolutionary Islamists do with much popular support among Muslims, somebody has to get the job and he has to have his capital somewhere. And that’s why the caliphate issue, beyond the most abstract demagoguery, is a potential suicide machine.
Once the issue is raised the battle begins. Should the caliph be Sunni or Shia? In all of Muslim history there has never really been a Shia caliph and today’s Shia would not accept any Sunni caliph. The starting point, then, would be a Sunni-Shia war or, rather, a set of such wars.
As for the Sunnis, who among them might be a legitimate candidate? Ironically, the two who have the best credentials are anti-Islamist monarchs: the kings of Morocco and of Jordan who both claim—a claim that is generally recognized—descent from Muhammad, Islam’s founder.
Ever since the Turkish Republic abolished the caliphate, Islamists have sought to restore it. Indeed, the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in the 1920s for that very purpose.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His latest book is Israel: An Introduction, was published by Yale University Press in January 2012. You can read more of Barry Rubin's posts at Rubin Reports, and now on his new blog, Rubin Reports, on Pajamas Media
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